"Your past is not your future; you have the power to make new decisions for your life starting today."
- Deb Sofield

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The Kindness of Strangers

I am sure at some time or another when you least expected it, a “stranger” helped you.

The kindness of strangers–completely unexpected, gratefully accepted and long remembered.

It sometimes happens when a thought flashes in your mind, I could use some help here. And suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, someone comes to your aid answering your silent prayer or your out-loud-request to any and all visiting angels to hurry and help.

I can remember many times when I uttered a prayer or word or even a thought that flickered through my mind requesting help when, lo and behold, someone in human form appeared and saved me from whatever trouble I just happened to land myself in. In fact, I can think of so many times this has happened that, without a doubt, I am keeping somebody busy who is watching out for me.

Now I am not sure how it happened, and I am not willing to test fate, but I (like many of you) am the grateful recipient of help from someone I did not know, nor will most likely ever see again. (That’s the part that always puzzles me.)

We all have amazing almost unbelievable stories (except we know them to be true) that would make the hair on our arms and head stand on end were we to relate the incident that made us stop and whisper a prayer of gratitude when the helper appeared and then, without warning or even a chance to offer a word of thanks, disappeared.

In thinking about how many times others have come to my aid, I must admit I secretly hope that I, Deb Sofield, am an “angel-in-waiting” for someone who needs a helping hand, a kind word or a shoulder to cry on.

I’m guessing we all would like to know that we made a difference in someone’s life if but for a quick minute when, unexpectedly, we were needed.

That brings me to my thought for the day. The world would be a better place if we were all willing to give a bit of ourselves to others from the kindness that dwells in our heart.

Now if kindness does not naturally dwell in your heart due to damage from past mistakes or pain caused by others, then call on your better self and push through for your “better angels” to come to your aid and the aid of those who have been put in your path.

Don’t hold back from helping someone when you could (with or without much effort) give a bit of yourself without expectations of compensation or reward. Let life reward you in its proper time.

The kindness of strangers, the phrase that has captured many a lament, comes from the last scene of the Tennessee Williams play, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” when the lead character is helped to stand and she responds with, “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Nowadays the phrase is more often used when referring to the goodness others show when they have nothing to gain in return except for a sense of pride and confidence for having done a good deed, which is so beautifully expressed in this quote by the Canadian writer Charles de Lint. “Every time you do a good deed you shine the light a little farther into the dark. And the thing is, when you’re gone that light is going to keep shining on, pushing the shadows back.”

Choices–we all make them. We do so many times without really thinking depending on the habits we’ve acquired through the years. So what if our habit was to go out of our way to do kind deeds for others, pushing back the darkness in a sense, by being the light for others? I can think of no greater gift we can give if we are only willing.

So this summer, as you are out and about, look for opportunities to be of help. Take the words of William Shakespeare to heart. “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

A good deed in a weary world performed by the kindness of strangers could be a match made in heaven. And I hope that you’ll be the “angel” to perform the service at the right time and place.

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Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts. - Winston Churchill